For most of us, the holidays are a magical time of year. There’s food and family and shopping and decorations and traditions. But for some of us, all the holiday pageantry has the opposite effect.  Like millions of people around the world, I tend to get a little blue this time of year.

When I say blue, I don’t mean clinical depression or anything that may require the help of a great therapist.  I just mean that the holidays don’t give me that warm and fuzzy feeling that everyone else seems to get. Call me a Scrooge, but December is my least favorite time of the year.  Although I haven’t been diagnosed with SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder), I am almost always on the count down until December is over.

By the time New Year’s rolls around….presto, change-o…..I’m back to my old self again 🙂 . If it’s not an option to take a long vacation in a remote area of the world where they DON’T celebrate December holidays, here are a few ways to minimize the holiday blues.

Work It Out – Yes, we’ve heard it all before…..working out increases endorphins and endorphins make you feel good (in my Halle Berry “Monster’s Ball” voice) but it’s actually true. Exercise (especially if it’s consistent) does wonders for your mood. While everyone is stuffing their face with turkey and ham, challenge yourself to get a jump-start on your fitness goals. If you can’t make it to the gym, watch a YouTube video on yoga (I love “Yoga with Adriene”) or pop in a DVD (Jillian Michaels has some great ones). You’ll experience the satisfaction of self-care and knowing that you’ve invested in your health and well-being.

Give, Give, Give – One way to get your mind and attention off yourself is to volunteer. December is a great month to volunteer your time and talents to those less fortunate.  Whatever cause you’re passionate about, probably has an organization that could use an extra set of hands during the holidays. 

Another way to give is to do an end-of-the-year purge and donate any clothes or household items that no longer serve you. As the adage goes, “one man’s junk is another man’s treasure”.  An added bonus is that you get a tax write off for your items.

Go Against the Holiday Status Quo – OK, so this next one is going to require some strength.  But here it goes…….don’t feel obligated to participate in all the pageantry of the holidays. This means gift exchanges, buying gifts, sending cards, potlucks, cooking a big meal, wearing ugly ass sweaters that your Aunt Sophie knitted, watching holiday movies, singing carols, overeating and the list goes on.  Society puts this pressure on us but it doesn’t mean, we have to take it.  

Sure, some people might call you Scrooge and say that you don’t have the holiday spirit, but if it makes you feel less stressed or anxious, who cares?  Give yourself permission to order a pizza on Christmas Eve, or watch scary movies, or whatever floats your boat. You have to look out for yourself and if having a non-traditional holiday season puts you in a better mental space, then go for it! You don’t owe anyone an apology for not following the holiday status quo.

Focus on the New Year – Make it your personal mission to focus on what’s beyond the holidays: a brand spanking new year full of opportunities. Decide what you what to do and what you want to accomplish next year and put your time and energy into strategizing for a kick-ass new year. Want to travel abroad in the coming year? Start researching flights, hotels, tourist attractions, restaurants, etc.  Want to change careers? Start researching associations, job boards, staffing firms, and target companies. Schedule January coffee dates with people you know who are already in that space to pick their brains.

Work on making a vision board or any other project that can get you ready to live your best year ever. Do whatever planning and legwork during December so that you’re ready to move forward with action in January.

If you think, feel or believe that you make be experiencing more than just the holiday blues, please do not hesitate to take care of yourself by seeking a therapist. But if you are experiencing mild winter blues, just know that this too shall pass…..